Though we love Hurricanes and Carnival Punch, our favorite gastro tradition at Mardi Gras is undoubtedly King Cake. The ring-shaped pastries are not just a sweet treat. Those lucky enough to find the fève (also known ‘the little plastic baby’) in their slice are blessed with good luck and can claim to be king or queen for the day. Check out These King Cakes that will put you in a Mardi Gras mood wherever you are.
Centrolina, Washington, D.C.
Speckled with purple, green, and gold sugars, the sweet circlet practically shines. Bite into the tender dough to find a cinnamony pecan filling. It can be accompanied by cookies in the shapes of Mardi Gras masks, which add even more festive flair. Make a reservation at Centrolina.
db Bistro Moderne, Miami, Florida
Trust pastry chef Saeko Nemoto to go all fancy schmancy and make a French-style galette des rois. She fills flaky pastry with almond frangipane paste. If you’re lucky enough to score the slice with the fève, you get to don the golden crown. Make a reservation at db Bistro Moderne.
Emeril’s Delmonico, New Orleans, Louisiana
The King Cake doughnut sundae is a triple threat we want to go up against all Mardi Gras long. The carnival-colored doughnuts are accompanied by pecan ice cream, a flurry of toasted pecans, and strawberries galore. Though it can easily be shared, we understand if you keep it all for yourself. Make a reservation at Emeril’s Delmonico.
Esperanto, New York, New York
Chef Richard Chirol took inspiration from Brazil’s Carnaval when creating this King Cake. The brioche-style bangle gets a boost from plenty of rum, raisins, and cream. Cherry glazed, the ring boasts the traditional yellow, green, and purple sugars, as well as crunchy sucre en grains. Make a reservation at Esperanto.
NOLA Restaurant, New Orleans, Louisiana
Bread pudding is boring. King Cake bread pudding is the complete opposite. Not only does it practically glitter from its sugary crust, but it comes with fruit compote and a quenelle of pecan ice cream to sweeten the deal. Make a reservation at NOLA Restaurant.
STK Midtown, New York, New York
Our friends at STK have two reasons to celebrate Fat Tuesday – it’s also their five-year anniversary. They’re serving a special twist on their classic Bag O’Donuts. The dulce de leche-filled donuts are given a Mardi Gras makeover served glazed and topped with purple, yellow, and green sprinkles. Make a reservation at STK Midtown.
Emeril’s, New Orleans, Louisiana
No matter how old we get, we never stop loving Monkey Bread – especially when it’s Mardi Gras themed. Each week, the flavor changes. It might be pralines ‘n’ cream or it might be brandy milk bunch, but it will always be awesome. Make a reservation at Emeril’s New Orleans.
Bluestem Brasserie, San Francisco, California
The best part about this King Cake isn’t the divinely sweet dough. Or even the sprinkles that spangle the three icings. No, it’s the fact that one cake every evening will hide a token that can be exchanged for a free entrée. Make a reservation at Bluestem Brasserie.
SoBou, New Orleans, Louisiana
King Cake, now in cocktail form. Wait, what? No, really, it actually exists. The Epiphany Milk punch features King Cake-infused brandy, along with Frangelico, cardamom syrup, and, of course, milk. Just make sure you don’t accidentally drink the fève. Make a reservation at SoBou.
Nevin Martell is a Washington, D.C.-based food and travel writer and the author of several books, including Freak Show Without A Tent: Swimming with Piranhas, Getting Stoned in Fiji and Other Family Vacations. Find him on Twitter @nevinmartell and Instagram @nevinmartell.